The George Floyd protests back in June sparked change in nearly every industry—by now, you’re likely familiar with the 15 percent pledge that many retailers made to stock their shelves with more Black-owned brands—and the beauty world was no exception. The internet (including this very site) was filled with lists of “Top Black-Owned Beauty Brands to Support Now and Always,” and Black founders saw their sales skyrocket. For Nyakio Grieco, founder of Nyakio Beauty, a lightbulb went off. “I had this “Aha” moment when all of these beautiful lists were coming out because I was shocked at how many Black and brown-founded brands I had never heard of before, despite being in the space for 20 years,” she says. It was with that in mind that she decided to launch Thirteen Lune, an e-commerce platform designed to inspire the discovery of beauty brands created by BIPOC founders.
“As a consumer trying to shop and support these brands, I realized that there wasn’t just one place you could go,” says Grieco. “There are a few of us at this retailer and that retailer, but you could spend an hour and a half on your computer visiting every single site to try and find them. There wasn’t a single retail space that was really celebrating and supporting the incredible products.”
Thirteen Lune plans to change that. The site features thirteen BIPOC-owned brands (with more to come down the line) including Lauren Napier Beauty, Buttah, and Bomba Curls. As Grieco puts it, Black-owned brands have long been neglected in the industry at large, and founders have struggled to receive the same financing and shelf space as their white counterparts. Only 1 percent of entrepreneurs backed by venture capital funding are Black, according to a 2017 Rate My Investor report, and 0.2 percent are Black women.
“A lot of the problem is that if you look at the big beauty houses, there are still not enough of us in the C-suite, in the labs, and sitting around the table, making decisions for big brands, and the same holds true for retailers and people making buying decisions,” says Grieco. And while the 15 percent pledge is certainly a step in the right direction, there’s still more work to be done.
One of the biggest frustrations that Grieco has faced as a Black founder is the widespread belief that Black-owned beauty products don’t work for non-Black women. “We are our test market, but it doesn’t mean that others can’t discover and enjoy and use and celebrate our brands, too,” she says. “For our whole lives, we’ve been buying products that were created by people who aren’t Black or brown with the expectation and assumption that they’re going to work for us, so why is it that we [as Black founders] aren’t being given the same respect?”
With that in mind, Thirteen Lune’s products are for everyone. “Maybe you have oily skin you don’t need one of the super hydrating oils that we sell on the site, but you are a white person who has curly, overly dry hair and could easily use one of our textured hair products,” says Grieco. “It’s really just like changing the narrative and speaking more to a poly-cultural existence instead of having products for you over there and me over here. When we speak about allyship, it’s really about the unity of it all. This is for us and by us… but all are welcome here.”
The beauty industry still has a long way to go before it can pride itself on being truly inclusive, but its success in doing so will have implications that go far beyond any particular product offerings. “Beauty is prime for being an industry that can really really move the needle for success for Black and brown founders,” says Grieco. “This is all bigger than beauty and skin care, because through our success we can bring the wealth back into our communities and help build generational wealth to ultimately help alleviate the systemic racism that got us into this position in the first place.”
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